YES – Bristol Beacon: 31st May 2024 – Review

YES – Bristol Beacon: 31st May 2024 – Review

2nd June 2024 0 By Owen Edmonds


Photo provied by Mike Ainscoe

When I was a child my musical journey started out with Iron Maiden, I then found Faith No More, Judas Priest, GnR, Metallica but it wasn’t until I found Jethro Tull that my love for prog really started to bloom.

And it was this love that led me to the music of YES. Truly one of the most important prog rock bands of all time and certainly in my own personal top 25 bands, so having the chance to see them live (albeit, this version and not the Fragile line-up) was something that I jumped at. So off I popped on the train from where I live in the valleys to Bristol Temple Meads and the new Bristol Beacon. I say ‘new’ It isn’t new it’s just now not named after a slave owner (think of the statue that got thrown into the river) but it has been updated since I was last here and a lovely venue it is. Right in the heart of Bristol, near pubs, clubs, restaurants, and hotels plenty, this could be one of the best-located venues in the whole of the UK and the seats are comfy.


This version of YES features guitar god Steve Howe, keyboardist Geoff Downes, Billy Sherwood on bass, drummer Jay Schellen and Jon Davison on vocals. So whilst not the lineup of my dreams (Howe, Anderson, Wakeman, Bruford, and Squire) these are all consummate musicians and I had no worries going in about how they were going to sound.


The Review

From the off the band seems to love playing with each other, Geoff Downes is perched above the rest and surrounded by approximately 213 keyboards (it’s probably nearer 12 but you get the gist), vocalist Jon Davison looks like a modern Jim Morrison in black shoes, brown leather trousers, and a loose-fitting black shirt comes to life singing Machine Messiah (not to be confused with the Sepultura song of the same name) with its overtones of prophetic doom at the hands of the industry with a nod to William Blake’s Jerusalem (Satanic Mills). Of course, this song comes from Drama which was the first Yes album to feature Geoff Downes, so it is a nice welcome into the gig.

Now before I go any further, I do want to make a point of talking about the gig. This isn’t a “show”, it isn’t a “performance”. This is a gig, this is all about the music. There’s no dry ice, no dramatic backdrops, no monsters, no walk-ons, no lasers just the band, and a straightforward lighting show. The star, the focus of the entire evening is the music, as it should be.

Time seems to fly by as the band flies through It Will Be a Good Day and Going for the One songs released on albums about 20 years apart but that work well together. Then we come to the first proper ‘banger’ of the night, I’ve Seen All Good People. It gives the crowd a first proper chance to join in singing with the fantastic harmonies and Steve Howe’s guitar tech deserves a round of applause for changing guitars throughout the night.

It is worth noting that Jon Davison has a very strong feeling of Jon Anderson to his sound. There were times when I closed my eyes and I would be hard-pressed to say which of the Jon’s I was listening to. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, I mean he’s been singing with this version of YES for quite several years.

On a similar topic, Billy Sherwood prowled the stage a bit like a panther, sounding superb throughout the night he does well to fill the unfillable shoes of Chris Squire.

The mid-gig break comes allowing the crowd the chance to stretch their legs and buy another pint or 3. Coming back we have more examples of the pure longevity of the band with songs from Fragile, South Side of the Sky, to last year’s album Mirror to the Sky (Cut From the Stars). There are 52 years between those songs, incredible.


Yes -Birmingham Symphony Hall – 1st June 224
Photo provided by Dave-ONeill

One of the highlights of the show was introduced by Steve as “…Some kind of Tale…” and everyone there knew what this was going to be. Snippets from each of the 4 tracks of Tales from the Topographic Oceans. The crowd ate this up with fervor and when it ended the standing ovation lasted several minutes. The ability of this band to move tempo 2 or 3 times within 45 seconds is amazing.


But this wasn’t the end. There was an encore. Some people didn’t think there would be one and left, before having to rush back as the classic backward piano of Roundabout played out.


It’s quite funny seeing men in their 60s and 70s running back to their seats. 


Roundabout is probably my second favorite YES track, the original keyboards of Rick Wakeman make me smile every time it comes on and Geoff Downes’ version is really good. Steve Howe carries the song with that classic guitar sound and tone.


The second (and final) encore song was Starship Trooper, my favorite YES song. I smiled throughout the entire song especially when a 77yr old Steve Howe Angus Young’d it across the stage. No seriously, he did, I wish I had videoed it, but videoing wasn’t allowed.


After shaking Roger Dean’s hand, I left sated, satisfied, and very happy.


Score – 9/10

Classic songs played by consummate professionals. Steve Howe is a guitar legend and he still has it.

A great show well worth going to see.


  • Machine Messiah
  • It Will Be a Good Day (The River)
  • Going for the One
  • I’ve Seen All Good People
  • Time and a Word
  • Don’t Kill the Whale
  • Turn of the Century
  • South Side of the Sky
  • Cut From the Stars
  • Medley – The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn) / The Remembering (High the Memory) / The Ancient (Giants Under the Sun) / Ritual (Nous Somme du Soleil


  • Roundabout
  • Starship Trooper

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